Regional newspapers given away to readers will be added to their paid-for total in a single circulation certificate, following a decision by the Audit Bureau of Circulation.
The combined certificate is being hailed a “historic move” which ABC says was a result of pressure from the industry to reflect the variety of distribution channels in an appropriate way.
It has worked with the Newspaper Society, media owners and media buyers to create a new single set of industry agreed reporting standards.
The new certificate will be published for the first time in August and include graphs and charts to help people use the figures properly.
ABC’s director of newspapers Martyn Gates said: “By working with media buyers and sellers, the historic agreement to merge the paid and free rules for regional newspaper reporting has been reached.
“The combined figures allow publishers to show their total circulations in one format which will prove to be a more useful tool when trading media space.”
The Newspaper Society’s Lynne Anderson said: “Regional and local newspaper content is now being delivered to readers across a range of distribution channels: paid, free, print and online.
“Combined reporting of an individual title’s paid, free and pick-up circulation figures on one ABC certificate is a sensible development which reflects some of these changes in the market.
“It should offer greater clarity for media buyers and publishers and help ensure that ABC remains an important component in regional press advertising decisions.”